Getting cut off from all social interactions is bound to have an impact on our mental health. Life how we know it has been disrupted and coping with the changes right now has become necessary.
The coronavirus can significantly affect mental health for everyone, but especially for those with mental illness. Both the anxiety of contracting the disease as well as the increase in loneliness and isolation can worsen and trigger symptoms.
A large part of a bipolar person’s life is the social support system. This can include their psychologist, friends and comfort persons. A lockdown can mean that meetings with these people would not be possible. Such cases might put a bipolar person at greater risk. Here is a list of coping strategies to help get you through these uncertain times.
Be Mindful Of Your News Consumption
The news can be helpful by encouraging precautions and prevention, but compulsively and obsessively reading and watching about the outbreak can be detrimental to mental health. Here are a few suggestions that may help you follow the news while protecting your mental health.
Limit your sources
Rely on only one or two reliable sources of news as misinformation and bad reporting are rampant. The CDC is a great resource for updates and precautions. You can also select a news medium that allows you to avoid potentially triggering content. For example, when reading from an article on your phone or computer, you can scroll past disturbing photos and quickly reach the information you are interested in.
Accept that the news coverage will not answer all your questions or address all your worries. Accept uncertainty. Trust that officials around the globe and the medical community are trying their best to address the situation.
Establish a reasonable rate of consumption, which may be checking for updates one or two times a day. Consume only what you need to know, what’s most relevant to you and particularly what is happening or anticipated in your own community.
Ask someone for help
If you feel you need separation from the news, have a friend or loved one filter the news for you, and give you updates based on a reasonable assessment of what’s relevant to you. This will allow you to reduce direct news consumption.
Make a Health Disruption Plan
Education can be critical to alleviating stress and anxiety. Speak to your health care advisor about coronavirus precautions specific to your health needs, including a health disruption plan.
Learn about coronavirus preventative and precautionary measures from reliable sources such as the CDC. Make a plan for your household needs —a shopping list, a pharmacy list. It may also help to develop an emergency plan, especially for elderly members of the family.
Stay connected with friends and family by Skype, Facetime, email, messenger and text, especially those who may be isolated. Be ready to listen to their concerns and share yours. Learn effective listening skills to help your friends and loved ones.
Reflective listening is an excellent communication technique, where you listen to what a person is saying and repeat it back to them. You may help validate their concerns, and show them you understand their concerns, which can help put them at ease. Talking to another person about worries and fears can help, and just knowing that others share them can validate your own fears and worries.
Social connectedness is critically important to warding off loneliness and resulting depression. There are many online peer support communities to turn to, including those for people with mental illness and their caregivers, such as ForLikeMinds, and for people living with mental illness such as: 7 Cups, Emotions Anonymous, Support Groups Central, Therapy Tribe, Support Groups, 18percent and PsychCentral.
Take Care Of Yourself
It’s essential to make your health a priority during this time. The critical self-care activities are sleep, physical exercise and a healthy diet. Find ways to address forms of stress, such as journaling, going for walks or calling a loved one. Maintaining a sense of normality and routine can also reduce stress.
It can be especially helpful to practice mindfulness and try not think of the future or worst-case scenarios. There are many online references, including Kindle books on Amazon, YouTube guided meditation and yoga videos, and apps such as Calm and Headspace.
Eat fresh and in moderation. Household chores, such as spring cleaning, will give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment when completed. Make sure you give your body enough exercise.
Sleeping adequately and properly plays an important role in regulating stress. Sleep hygiene is critical for the management of bipolar symptoms.
Mock daily routine
Even if most of your time was spent outside the house usually, try to replicate the things that you did outside while at home.
If you are working from home, treat the day like any other office day. If your office has been shut or your educational institution has been closed, engage in activities and don’t sit idle. For example, creating a schedule for every activity throughout the day will help in mood management.
Have a large stock of your medications at home prepared from the onset. While pharmacies are open during the coronavirus lockdown, procuring medicines will not be that easy.
Stay safe ♥ Stay home!